Thursday, April 16, 2015

Sherpa Acclimates at High Altitude Before Climb

April 16, 2015. 
Day three of the 
Mt. Everest Expedition for Global Peace and Friendship.

Phurba Thile Sherpa "acclimating" in Namche Bazaar
Even sherpas must adjust to high altitudes after living in lower elevations.  And that is exactly what Phurba Thile Sherpa is doing today, according to his Facebook post, which simply says, “Namche-Shyangbuche-Khumjung Valley visit, acclimation day.”

A 2010 Science Magazine article, The Genetics of High Altitude Living, begins with, “Call it Sherpa envy. Mountain climbers have long wished they could discover—and bottle in a drug—how Tibetans live and work high in the Himalayas without getting altitude sickness. Now researchers have discovered two new gene variants that help Tibetans use oxygen more efficiently than people who live at low altitudes; natural selection favored these variants in Tibetans, whose ancestors have lived at high altitude for thousands of years.”

The story reminded me of living in the high altitude city of Santa Fe, NM.  I warned visitors from lower elevations, “Altitude sickness is miserable.  So on your first few days here, drink plenty of water, go light on the local margaritas, and eat carbs.”  Those who didn’t listen, were ill within two days.  Vacation ruined.

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